LONDON—Further evidence that the public relations business continues to outperform advertising and other communications disciplines was provided this week by the third quarter results from WPP Group, which showed public relations revenues up by 8.5 percent so far this year, and 7.6 percent for the quarter.
WPP, which owns Burson-Marsteller, Cohn & Wolfe, Hill & Knowlton, Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide and numerous smaller and specialist public relations firm, reported revenues up by 16.2 percent to £1.719 billion. In constant currency terms, however, revenue were up 6 percent, primarily reflecting the strength of the Euro and U.S. dollar against the pound sterling. On a like-for-like basis, excluding the impact of acquisitions and currency fluctuations, revenue growth was just 3 percent.
Revenue growth varied significantly by geography in the third quarter. Asia Pacific, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East continued to grow strongly, up 16.5 percent. Continental Europe grew at 7.2 percent, up over the region’s first half growth, reflecting what the group described as counter-cyclical strengthening. Central and Eastern Europe also continued the strong growth seen in the first half with revenues up 16.3 percent.
But the United Kingdom saw some softening, with constant currency growth of 2.9 percent, compared to 4.6 percent in the first half. North America was the weakest region with flat revenues, compared with first half growth of over 6 percent.